The Internal Power Training Blog

Check out the latest info and research from Coach Chris' explorations in the Subject of Internal Power.

Using the Ming Men Bookmark

In Traditional Chinese theory there is a point in the middle of the lumbar region of back that is believed to be the centre of ‘Vitality’ and where the original life essence of the individual is based, this point is called the ‘Ming Men’.

Located at between the L2 & L3 vertebra, a couple of inches above the line of the Iliac crest in most people, this point is of foundational importance to Chinese Medicine and their associated practices. It is thought to be responsible for ‘warmth’ in the body, for fuelling correct metabolic action and organ function in these traditional systems. 

The idea of this point as the ‘origin’ is an interesting one because it is in this very area that the human embryo begins to develop, the familiar curved spine growing out from this start point. Delving into the importance of this point in the Chinese Medical practices is an interesting one, but in this post I would like to talk a little about some of the other ways in which we can utilise this point of the body. So lets dig into a couple of ideas relating to this area of the back and why they can help us to create power, mobility and health through correct training.

One of the Tissue Nexus’

Firstly we can think of the Ming Men as the Nexus for the Fascia and related tissues of the back. We could describe it as being like a junction, where all of the various strands and sheets of tissue join together, linking the entire body. This point, or general area, is located at the centre of the Lumbar fascia which, as discussed in previous posts, is responsible for our stability, load management and for other tissues like those of the abdomen to work with.

When we use the Ming Men as a juncture for all the tissue of the back and their relationship with those of the front, we can begin to monitor and feel how the movement practices of the internal arts tug and pull on seemingly separate body parts. Appreciating this interlinking of the body through the lumbar fascia is perhaps one of the first steps that can transform our practice. This is because it allows us to alter position or movement in line with what we actually feel in this area, it is an excellent method for making tiny self adjustments to maximise our practices.

Pairing  front and back

Secondly we can actually work with this tissue nexus as the start and end point of opening or closing in the back. This can be combined with the opening and closing of the ‘front’ of the body originating in the Qi Hai point. When combining these two actions simultaneously and in harmony I call the process ‘Pairing’.

This is to say that we can focus on the Ming Men as a point from which all of the tissues stretch out when opening, or pull in towards when closing. In one of my favourite methods for this we feel the connection from the Ming Men to the Little fingers and open all the way to their tips, then pull from them back to the ming men (all while moving only and inch or so!)

The utility of this method of opening and closing the back, when combined with the simultaneous opening and closing of the front is that it allows us to create huge forces actually within our frame and base. Much like the Taiji or ‘yin yang’ symbol, we have two actions occurring simultaneously, in harmony but opposition with each other. Imagine utilising the entire muscle chain and associated fascia of the back half of the body, from the heels to the little fingers in an opening movement. While simultaneously the entire front closes. Thats a lot of power in a little space!

A Marker for movement

In the previous article we discussed the spine wave, which actually passes through the Ming Men as it travels up the spine and splits at the shoulders. During our training, we can use the Ming Men as a marker or focal point to understand the travel of the wave through the Lumbar region. The other point we use as a marker in this wave is at T5 which is another nexus, this time for the upper back bridge, that is often related to the Heart or Pericardium in Chinese Medicine.

But aside from that unique method of waving the spine, the Ming Men can actually be a very useful marker for a wide variety of movement directions and methods. For instance, we can see it used as a marker during some of the palm changes and circle walking found in Ba Gua, where rotation and torque are common and the acute appreciation of these forces on the body are vital.

A marker for Health

Finally, one of the ways in which we can assess the general health of the body is to look at and examine the strength, stability and range of motion in the joints and spine. If the joints are unhealthy, the spine feels stiff or sore, or there is a systemic problem across the bodies movement capacity as a whole it can be a good indicator that something is occurring with the persons general health. Lumbar pain for instance can often be related to dietary choices, to hydration levels, to poor proprioception, many things that may not immediately spring to mind. 

When we have worked with the Ming Men for some time is actually becomes one of the ‘go to’ markers for assessing our general level of health and vitality. We can use a specific set of stretches, while monitoring the feeling in this area of the spine and lumbar Fascia, to check the health of our connective tissue as a whole for instance. If we feel tightness or discomfort where there was none, then it can be an indicator that a certain lifestyle change may be having an negative impact on your health and vitality over all. 

So, outside of the Traditional Medical Theory and the associated healing practices, we can see that the Ming Men point and general area are extremely practical models, markers and physical realities to help us improve our internal power, health and body wisdom.

Often it all starts in that little point of the back.

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